... notes from my workshop: Restoration projects                                                                                                        3

Press button and listen to
J.S. Bach: Toccata & Fuge in D flat, arr. for Theatre Organ

Reed Organ

Hörügel 2mp

This is a two-manual reed organ with a pedal, found in a little chapel of a rural village near cologne.  The instrument is based on a Hörügel reed organ dated ~1905, but it underwent several re-constructions in the past and is not in it's original state.
Hörügel 8743

Fifteen stops,

4 sets of reeds:

I. 8'+4' 

II. 8' 

P. 16'

Stop List 
Manual I (Great)
Gamba 8' Bass
Seraphone 8' Discant
Viola 4' Bass
Flute 4' Discant
Manual II (Swell)
Diapason 8'  Bass
Dulcet 8' soft Bass
Echo 8' soft Discant
Melodia 8' Discant
Forte 1 16' Bass
Forte 2 16' Discant
Bass Coupler (I)
Discant Coupler (I)
Manual Coupler (II -> I)
Forte I. Manual
Forte II. Manual
Crescendo Roll
Full Organ Piston

This means that the instrument has one set of 8'  reeds in the swell manual, one 8' and one 4' set in the Great manual, and one 16' set for the pedal.

The soft stops are derived; a fully derived "Vox Celeste" effect can be produced by combining the 8' reeds of the great and the swell manual.

The keyboards have a compass of 5 octaves, C - c4, divided in 2 bass and 3 treble octaves.
The pedalboard has 27 keys (C -  d) and is divided in two sections that have separate forte stops.


According to the serial number 8470 printed on the manufacturer's label on the back, at least the case and some parts of the upper action belonged to an Hörügel reed organ dated ~1905. Later (probably in the thirties or forties) an re-construction occuured, probably by a Company named "Prein & Söhne". A name plate of this former piano and organ house of Cologne is affixed besides the keyboard. The action was rebuilt (maybe even removed and replaced ?) The pedalboard seems not to be the original one.

The pumping mechanism  was first operated by treadles. In the re-construction the treadles were replaced by an crescendo roll that worked on the "forte" mutes.  The bellows  was at that time operated by pulling a handle on the right side of the instrument. Later, holes of 2'' diameter were cut into the wind chest and case, and flexible hose connected the instrument to a remote electric blower. The reservoir bellows remained operational, and the safety valve in the reservoir bellows limited the negative pressure. The crescendo roll now worked on an additional flap valve in the reservoir bellows.

In this condition the organ was still used  for accompanying the services in a rural chapel near Cologne until ca. 1990, when a teacher got it and stored it in the basement of his house. (By the way, recently I found in an ebay auction another instrument, very similar to mine, and you may have a glimpse on this better conserved one by following this link.)

Restoration history

When I got the Instrument, it was painted over and over with green enamel; just the keyboard, the pedalboard and the stop pulls were left in their original color. Some paintings in "rural style" had been attached.

The electric blower was absent, the suction was provided by a kitchen hood (but the vacuum was not strong enough to give a sound), connected by a hose and some spouts and flanges to a hole in the wind chest. The bellows were still present; one could operate the instrument roughly by pulling a stick that was inserted into a slot on one side, or by connecting a vacuum source to the wind chest. I used my shop vac, and the result was better than I expected.

As it was obvious that the original state of the Instrument could not be restored, I decided to get it back to a working condition with respect to its history.


Stripping the case was not easy to do and left some remains of the green enamel in the grain of the wood. The veneer below the green enamel was walnut and mansonia, some parts are solid oak.  Partly the veneer had to be removed and to be replaced by new pieces. Then I stained the case and polished it with tung oil. I decided to conserve at least two plates of the "rural style paintings" on green background in the lower part of the case.

Lower action / blower

My first idea was to restore the lower action to a state it that could be operated by a effective working handle. But no one in my family wanted to work continuously as a calcantus ...

So, when I incidentally found in a second hand shop a cheap reed organ that was in bad condition, but  had an high quality Laukhuff VENTOLA blower and a small reservoir bellows in it - some decades old, but still working rather silently when oiled -, I decided to remove the lower action completely, conserve it for further use and to replace it with the blower and the reservoir.

Upper action

The upper action, particulary keyboard, pitmans and couplers, were sticky. Leathers and felts had to be replaced.


Some of the highest reeds are broken, some of them could be replaced, for other ones iI am still looking for spare parts. The others needed some cleaning and tuning:  The Instrument had once been probably tuned to a = ~ 435 Hz, but in the "stretched octaves" manner. The pedal reeds had been tuned to a = ~ 440 Hz. You can imagine the disharmony ?


As a result, I now had a 2 mp Studio organ - good enough for practice. The sound is better than one could suppose, looking at the small number of reed sets!

At last, as I had no longer enough room for the instrument, I donated it to a little rural congregation, near the town Soest, for their chapel. There it is used again “ad maiorem dei gloriam” to accompany the congregation at the services, especially at weddings.  The congregation is happy about it.


So, finally,  this reed organ found back to her original destination !


Press button and listen to the original sound of this organ! (not yet realized)

Any questions ? Please contact me by e-mail: martin.r@gmx.de

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J M. Rutenfranz  last updated: 23 March 2001  martin.r@gmx.de

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